Banquet, Marsha, and Memphis

Saturday was a very busy day, for some people. For us it was one of another, lazy late exit from our respective beds, a late breakfast (or early lunch) then some sitting around doing a lot of nothing. We had to rest up for the banquet which was to start at 6:00 in the evening. Prior to that the crew members in attendance had a business meeting for the USS Cleveland Reunion Association. Our treasurer, Rick, gave a comprehensive accounting of our financial situation and made it clear how much it costs to keep our organization functioning. After that we went through the agenda, ultimately agreeing on where we go next year. Lots of options were suggested, and promoted, but we finally agreed on Savannah, Georgia. Another new city for us to discover.

At 5 pm we started getting ready for the big event of the reunion by finding the clothes we brought for the occasion and laying them out hoping some of the wrinkles would disappear. That really wasn’t an issue for me because once I put them on they just disappeared thanks to all the food I’ve been eating. Yessir I just filled up all the vacant space and stretched those wrinkles away. It wasn’t pretty, but I wasn’t wrinkled. It worked so well that Diane asked me to put her clothing on for a little bit and kinda iron them out, too. Doing that stirred up some latent emotions from my youth when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a boy or girl. Right then the bra started to chafe reminding me that I’d made the correct choice all those years ago. Diane agreed and thanked me for pressing her clothes. Actually, her’s got stretched a little further than mine and, consequently, looked much better after i removed them. This entire exercise in removing wrinkles showed us that we no longer needed to ensure that rooms we get while traveling have irons in the room. Now I just need to ensure I don’t start losing weight thereby losing this new-found skill I’ve acquired. If necessary, I can hire out my body to fellow travelers so they, too, can avoid the need for an iron. Just have to find out what to charge, or if to charge. I might like doing it just for fun.

The banquet went well and we wound up with 46 ex-Cleveland crew members in attendance, in addition to significant others who attended. It was a packed room. The food was good and the raffle & auction items were plentiful. I have no idea how much money was spent in total, but one of our old Chiefs spent over $1000 on things his wife wanted. I believe that was a new record for one bidder. It went a long way toward ensuring the organization wouldn’t be having any financial woes in the near future. Rick reported that we were, once again, solvent.

After the banquet was done everyone went to the atrium and pool area which is surrounded by rooms for photos. We were making a lot of noise after the suggested quiet hour, but none of the other guests complained. So, we just continued to make lots of noise which made it very difficult for organizers to organize groups for photos, especially the guys. 

Finally, there was a lull in the noise and we got the guys to kind of line up for the photo.
And here are the ladies …

The festivities were finally terminated about 10:30 pm much to the glee no doubt of everyone who had an interior room, and we all headed for our respective rooms. I think.

The five Radiomen in attendance: Spence, Curt, Dan, Gene, and Me

During our good nights and farewells I volunteered Diane to deliverer our friend Marsha to the airport at 0530 the next morning. Diane wasn’t happy, initially, but I won her over. Then she expanded the day by declaring that “since we’re getting up so early, we may as well go to Memphis and visit Graceland.” I couldn’t really object because, first, she is the only declared driver of our rental and, second, well, because she wanted to go to Memphis. Even though it was pouring rain … 

Nashville to Graceland isn’t a trip around the corner. It’s about 220 miles and a 3 hr drive according to my map. In reality, it’s 220, yes, but 4.5 hours. The extended time is because there was a portion of the freeway closed but there were no detour signs pointing to an alternate route. The local folks knew about them but neither I nor our GPS were aware of how to proceed. So, I studied the map as we went and found a way around it. The long way around it, but we eventually made it. We stopped at a Waffle House about halfway to get breakfast and our first coffee of the day. Here’s proof …

Somewhere along the line we stopped at a rest area. They have names just like other states …

The first thing everyone who enters Graceland is exposed to is the gift shop. That’s where you can buy sunglasses for any occasion, just like Elvis wore …

I won’t bore you with the interior of Graceland because you’ve probably seen it before. I will say, however, that both Diane and I were pleasantly surprised to discover how un-pretentious the home was. It was very nice and we enjoyed it. It gave us a different look at how to view Elvis. He seemed to be a very nice guy who died far too young.

There was a picture in one of the out buildings that totally caught me by surprise and may also cause a second look by my brothers … 

The left photo in the middle looks disturbingly like my first grade picture. The means (to me) that at one point in time I looked like Elvis. We just didn’t turn out the same in the same, did we?

After touring the mansion we exited the venue, which is far bigger than just the mansion, and headed home. We had a 3-4 hour trip ahead of us and we were tired already. Diane drove both directions and amazed me at how much stamina she had. I had a horrible time staying awake to make sure she stayed awake. Could be we died somewhere along I-40 and I’m writing this to you from an alternate universe in the Matrix. Seems real, though.

We made it home in time to get to bed about 8:15 pm after eating a less than stellar hamburger from the Opry Backstage Grill here in the hotel. We didn’t wake up for 12 hours and didn’t get out of bed until 10-11. We’re not as tired as we were when we went to bed but it took a long time to get some energy back. Plus, it just felt good to lay around doing nothing.

Finally, the need for food took precedent over the need for rest so we left in search of something to eat. In the car I searched on line for a decent place to go and we wound up at a really nice place just up the street. The Santa Fe Steakhouse where the food is excellent.

When we walked into the place an were being led to our booth, about 25 people sitting at tables in the middle of the room got up and left. Diane said she noticed that the crew was composed of sheriffs and firefighters. When the waitress showed up I asked if they needed to go out and get another steer before they could feed anyone else. She said no so I ordered steak fajitas. Diane ordered their beef enchiladas. Both of us were overjoyed with our choices. Not only was the food excellent, the wait staff was more than wonderful. 

Now I must end this and prepare for our last night here in Nashville. Tomorrow we fly home from rainy Tennessee to bright and sunny Oregon.

Camping at Big Eddy

Last Thursday we took “The Littles” Camping at Big Eddy Park on the Nehalem River near Vernonia, Oregon. It’s a small place but full of fun on hot days. Even I found the water to be pleasant in the 100 degree temps. “The Littles”, by the way, are our Grand Daughters Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie. I’m using that now because it’s easier to type.

We attended this outing thanks to Jennifer’s & Daniel’s willingness to let us join them for their annual Church Campout at the park, even though we don’t attend their church. Guess Jennifer figured I wouldn’t cause too much of a commotion this time and the who attend the last time we went had plenty of time to forget past offenses. I don’t think there were any, but you just never know what might trip someone’s trigger.

This was the first time The Littles went camping with us so it was and exciting time for them. Since the church pretty much rents the entire park for the weekend the kids (lots of them) were free to roam all day and into the night. The big attraction was the big eddy in the Nehalem River for which the park is named.

With inner tubes of various sizes, and life jackets, the kids assaulted the river and had a spectacular time just floating around, visiting, making new friends, and for some, catching crawdads.

In line, front to rear, are Jerrie, Baylee, and Gilligan under Daniel’s watchful eye.

 

Living large in the deep water, about 20′ deep, middle of the eddy.

 

Even the dogs get to play. This is Ziva.

 

There was some down time allowed for river rock art.

 

Jerrie in a brief moment of inactivity.

 

Jennie minding the tubes. This is about as wet as she got.

 

Gilligan coming in for a pit stop.

 

Gilligan giving her Mosh Pit greeting.

 

Mocha just floated around all over the place, lurking kinda like an alligator. She loves the water because it sets her free of her aching joints.

 

Open fires are not currently allowed in any Oregon camp grounds unless they had a way to turn them off. So, before leaving civilization we made a trip to Lowe’s and got a propane fire pit that fit that category.

 

It works quite nicely, throwing a rosy glow on everyone who sits around it.

 

It was even used to produce vast quantities of s’mores for those who like that kind of thing. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of s’mores. I think that makes me kind of unpatriotic, or something, and I’m sorry if it does. But, I still don’t care for them. The kids love them, however.

 

Lots of time people showed up from other families to join in with Jeran, Lydia, Joey, Jamie, Sofie, and Ceiarra. I caught this one sitting still so took her photo. Also, got a fairly good shot of Daniels T-shirt, Save the Chubby Unicorns.

 

Most of the girls are wearing their hair longer, young and old, so braiding it was a full-time job. Jennie loves doing it and fixed up all comers. She’s a pro braider. So, I guess that means she’s Pro Braider Jennie, or PB&J for my acronym book.

 

Jennie and Jerrie posing after Jen gave Jer piggies, my personal favorite hairdo.

 

Diane contemplating something while relaxing.

 

Jennie relaxing.

 

Older kids gathered for lunch.

Sunday morning we attended an outdoor church service then everyone packed up to leave. For me, getting ready to go involved driving our motor home around the narrow, wiggly, tree-lined roads to get in a spot where I could reattach the tow dolly and mount the car on it. I’d done it once to drop the dolly and didn’t have a problem. This time, however, I cut one corner a little close and brushed an old, rotten stump. It left a mess on the driver’s side near the rear wheel that I was sure would signal the end of the world.  But it didn’t. Neither I, nor anyone else with a camera, thought to capture the moment and the damage, so there’s no proof that what I’m relating really happened. Therefore, you can just chalk this up to a big lie if you wish. I really did swipe the stump, though, and the visible damage appeared to be permanent.

Once we got home I got out the polishing compound and rubbed 98% of it away. I was amazed. And happy. Now I won’t be ashamed to take it out again next week for a trip to Nehalem Bay State Park. This is the bay where the Nehalem River joins the Pacific Ocean.

How odd is that?

 

 

A Marathon, a Trip, and Eating Out

Hi. In case you’re wondering, it appears that I’m going to survive the grueling sciatica affliction to which I was subjected due to the incredibly hard seats in the EOU gym during Maryssa’s graduation. That was on June 16th – FLASH! I need to share, right here, that June 16th is absolutely correct and I just pulled that date out of thin air BEFORE I checked it. I think I’m going to give myself a little star. Yessir! I’m getting a star!

Regarding my ongoing battle with sciatica pain, I must report that over the past 3.5 weeks I’ve had numerous occasions where I was almost pain-free. Every time that happened I figured it would be OK to do some work outside which undid all the good up til then. I should have listened to Diane. She’s was always saying, “stay on the couch or go take a nap”. Really, she told me that but I had a hard time with it because I couldn’t help thinking about all the outside chores that weren’t getting done while I snoozed away. I finally acquiesced to her demands and have since become very comfortable with napping pretty much any time of the day, guilt free.

Another setback was caused by my unauthorized participation in a marathon on the 4th of July in downtown St. Helens. Jennifer, our daughter, and Lydia, her daughter, were participating and asked Diane to join them on this trek around town. Much to my surprise, she agreed. Jennifer said she already bought the costumes for the dogs and had tutus for her, Lydia, and Diane. Sadly, I didn’t get a tutu.

The marathon had a name … The Underachiever .4K Marathon. Yes, that’s a .4K. Jennifer was in charge of Bronson while Diane and Lydia shared turns with Ziva which left me to bring up the rear, hobbling as fast as I could. When it was all said and done, huffing around every corner looking for the finish line, I finally found it after only 2 hrs 27 mins. Diane and the kids, being much younger and less prone to take small breaks along the way, finished in about 30 minutes.

This is the way our July 4th began …

Then we got all dressed up for the marathon … 

Marathon starting line – runners went first.

Diane and Jennifer bringing up the rear … I don’t know where Jeran was at this point, but he was there.

Here’s Jeran with Lydia and Bronson. Bronson looks absolutely ecstatic about all the commotion, doesn’t he? There was some doubt about Bronson’s willingness to walk all that way, especially while wearing that hat, but he did well. Another danger was the possibility of encounter someone on a skate board. Given the opportunity, he will chase down the rider and take the board away from him. Skaters have learned to not ride past the Walters house.

Ziva was interested in all the other dogs, of course …

This was Diane saying, “Don’t do it!”

Getting untangled …

First stop, the Krispy Creme Lady …

Next stop was the Running Dog Brewery for a beer, or a fantastic locally made root beer. Truly the best root beer I’ve ever tasted. 

Waiting in line for treats.

Still waiting in line …

… and, still waiting in line …

The race finished with a fashion show where Ziva won 2nd place. Judging was based on audience applause and Ziva’s ovation was the loudest. The judge, however, was obviously biased and gave it to a young girl and her dog who were wearing matching tutu’s. I knew I should have had a tutu!

The next day Diane thought it would be fun to have lunch on the Roof overlooking the Columbia River. It’s a new eating facility that, thankfully, has an elevator that drops visitors off at the bar. It was a perfect day and the food was great. They serve all manner of alcohol as well as sandwiches on hogie rolls. Good food, but they didn’t have ham. I wanted ham. Instead, I ate their version of a reuben which wasn’t bad. The view was awesome.

Straight out from the venue is Sand Island where the cities fireworks are ignited. No doubt it was loud and colorful the previous evening from this location. The far beach is the Washington side of the Columbia River.

Diane wanted to capture the flag in front of the old court house.

Last Sunday Diane and I took a trip to Bremerton, WA to deliver Cedric back to his ship, the USS Nimitz, America’s oldest super carrier. We didn’t leave until 2000 so it was a quiet and uneventful trip. We were treated to this sunset as we made our way north which made the trip worth it all by itself.

Instead of turning around and coming right back home, we booked a room at the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites on the Naval Base where we lounged until almost 1100 the next morning. Then we drove home.

After arriving home I had a short nap then picked up Jennifer and Lydia for another artistic adventure at a local school. It was fun as are all events that I get to share with my girls. My painting is the one on right. I think I could have done a better job if it hadn’t been for the two young girls at the table in front of us who were having way too much fun. They distracted me.

It was a good day.

On Tuesday I took my bad back to the golf course to ride around in a cart with Doug and Junior. Every once in a while I’d get out and smack a golf ball just as hard as I could, as did D and J. They were more serious about form and did better than me, but it turns out when I get enough rest and can hit a golf ball a long way. I can putt pretty good, too. It’s everything between the drive and the putting that gives me problems. Still, it’s fun to visit with the guys.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I had a visit with my VA primary care doctor, Dr. Gilbert. She’s been taking good care of me for a few years and this was just a followup so we didn’t have time to talk about everything new that’s cropped up since our last visit. So, I have another appointment next month to address my back. I’m getting my MRI, one of my most favorite things in the world to do. Yessir, stuff me in that tube, the one that tightens around you and squeezes the life out of you. Thankfully, they give me Valium so I can make it through without screaming too much.

After the doctor visit, we went to the Black Bear Diner on TV Highway for lunch. Rick and Jody joined us. Diane had a croissant tuna sandwich, and I had a California Burger.

Rick and Jody thought it was pretty funny and didn’t think I could actually compress it enough to get it in my mouth, but I fooled them. It was an excellent hamburger.

R&J had already eaten so they each just wanted a piece of pie. When it was delivered to the table it was evident karma was being observed because I got the last laugh. Turns out a piece of pie at the Black Bear Diner is a little bigger than a slice.

It was a good ending to a good day.

Sciatica Deluxe, Beavers, Anniversarys

Since my last post I’ve been recovering from the consequences of sitting on a hard bleacher seat for 4 hours. My little sit-down bones rebelled and have been complaining since that day causing my sciatica to run rampant making life pretty miserable for both me and Diane.

Yeah, I know. No one really wants to listen to a complainer so I’ll just put those personal items aside and talk about other stuff. Doing that, however, doesn’t make my back feel any younger.

Let’s talk about the NCAA College World Series. Everyone watched at least some of those games, right? I mean, like you were glued to your TV screens, hanging on every pitch to see what was going to happen. Well, I can’t say that Diane and I did that, not at first, but we got totally engaged when the field was whittled down to the last eight teams, one of which was the Oregon State Beavers. That caught our interest.

When Oregon lost their first game to North Carolina the excitement waned a little, I admit, but we watched anyway. Sticking with them provided us with a great deal of entertainment as the Oregon Beavers clawed they way through the field, one elimination game at a time. Each time we thought it was all over for the Beavs they rallied late and came out on top. That included the final elimination game against Arkansas which was game 2 of the Championship round. Arkansas was unbeaten to that point and Oregon was down to its last strike, bottom of the 9th inning with 2 out and the score was 3-2 Arkansas, and the tying run was on third. It looked bleak for our Beavers. The pitcher took the mound and the batter line up for that final strike. It was a mighty swing resulting it a pop up down the 1st base line. Two Razorbacks rushed to the projected landing zone and raised their mitts, waiting to see who had the best chance to catch it. Right then, a third Razorback rushed between them with his glove in the air as if he had it in the bag. About the time those three formed an equilateral triangle the ball plummeted into the ground right about ground zero. It was stunning for the Beavers, devastating for the Razorback. Had one of them caught that ball it would have been game over and the Razorbacks would have been the national NCAA champions. Instead, the batter and pitcher faced each other one more time. The batter made a solid connection and drove in the tying run with a solid single. That brought Trevor Larnach, Oregon’s team leading home run hitter who didn’t disappoint. He drove the ball over the right field fence into the Beavers bullpen. Now it’s 5-3 Oregon and they wouldn’t lose the lead, taking out the three batters they faced in the top of the 10th. Great game. Check the details here if you want to read it with photos.

As a rule, I don’t watch baseball because I find it to be a fairly boring thing to do. It’s like watching a horse race while standing next to the finish line. Nothing really happens until the last straightaway sprint when jockeys jockey for position and the thundering hoof beats impact your entire body, causing your adrenaline to spike, driving your heart rate sky-high. Then, BOOM!, it’s over, and quiet quickly descends on the crowd amid a mixture of cheering and boohoos.

Now we have to wait until next season to see how they do. Odds are in the Beavers’ favor for finishing high in the standings because many of their ace players are returning, including the freshman pitcher, Kevin Abel, who threw a complete game shutout for the final game. Also coming back is the catcher, Andy Rutschman, who set an NCAA championship series record with 17 hits, I think. Maybe 18. He did well.

OK, enough about sports. Now I’ll just make stuff up and see if something moves into the realm of reality.

Even though I could hardly walk due to my annoying sciatica, I can still golf. I don’t get it. All that twisting, turning, and swinging doesn’t aggravate the existing pain. And, I think because the pain slows me down a little, I actually golf better. Funny thing. My last outing with the boys was yesterday and we finished our allotted 9 holes with a 54. Yes, we tied, something we’ve never done before. Now, before you bring up the fact that 54 for a round of 9 isn’t all that great, let me point out that we don’t take golfing all that serious. We’re out there for fun, fresh air, and the lunch that follows the 9th hole. When we’re done and packing up our gear we talk about where we should eat so that’s actually part of the game for us. Generally, we wind up at Burgerville but lately the New Happy Garden restaurant, across from Walmart, next to the Verizon store, has caught our interest.

Today is Tuesday, July 3rd, in case you were wondering. I was, so looked it up. This morning Diane made me get up really early then drove me to the VA Clinic in Hillsboro to donate blood and urine to be analyzed prior to my pending July 11th appointment with Dr. Gilbert. She’s my primary care doctor. Hopefully my sciatica will be all healed up by then because I’m fearful her solution might include some guy with a sharp knife. I’d like to avoid that. I think I’ll beat it because Diane has been very strict with me, making me rest and relax, to let it heal. I thank God for her every day.

On June 23rd, Jennifer’s brother Jeff, and his lovely wife Heather, celebrated their 11th anniversary then on July 1st Jeff’s sister Jennifer, and her lovely husband Daniel, celebrated their 23rd anniversary. Factor in the 50th anniversary that Diane and I recently celebrated, we have a combined total of 84 years of married life. That’s quite significant. We pray there will be many more of those years.

My mind just ran dry so guess I’ll quit for now. I hope everyone is in good health, happy, and that you will all be careful when playing with fireworks tomorrow. Remember – it’s light the match, light the firecracker, throw the firecracker. Some folks seems to get confused in the heat of the moment and throw the match and keep the firecracker. You can always tell past offenders. They’re the ones who can still play Chopsticks on the piano because it only takes 2 fingers.

Maryssa’s Graduation and Other Stuff

Diane’s Wandering Dog, Ziva, was delivered back to the house about 0900 this morning after visiting the neighborhood below us. When I answered the door, a lady in running gear was holding her collar and explained that she was on North Vernonia Road, a very busy place. The lady said Ziva was a sweetheart and turned to run up the street when she started talking to her so she followed her. When she got to our yard she sat down and waited for her. She knocked on the door to ensure this was indeed ‘home’ for her. Nice neighbor. I think the reason she turned for home is because I whistled for her. She always comes back to the whistle. Sometimes it takes a while. I suspect she’s just out looking for a better place to live. Maybe someplace where there’s an RV and a young family who would take her everywhere with them. We didn’t take her on our last trip so I suspect she’s miffed and letting us know.

Old oldest dog, Panzee, has apparently recovered from a terminal case of arthritis in her left hip. Just a couple of weeks ago she came up lame to the point where we thought it was time to visit the vet to see if it’s time to send her on her way. But, she never indicated that she was in pain so we left her alone and gave her Rimadyl (dog ibuprofen) twice a day. Expensive stuff – $2 a pill. But, she’s family, so it’s OK. Letting her work it out turned out to be the right thing to do because after nearly going to the Great Beyond, she managed to work out her kinks and is currently getting around with just a minor limp. Before, she could hardly put any weight on it. Now she runs like nothing’s wrong. Amazing. I believe she’s living proof that if you don’t move it, you lose it. Lots of times I wish I was as smart as our dogs. So does Diane. I think Diane thinks I’d be a lot less prone to injure myself if I didn’t have opposing thumbs. She tried to trick me one time by taping my thumbs to my hand when I was asleep. She said she just wanted to see if I noticed the difference but boy did I fool her. I figured it out right away when I went to the bathroom and discovered that I couldn’t rip off a piece of toilet paper like normal. I believe she regretted that decision and hasn’t tried it again, as far as I know.

Speaking of questionable hips, I’ve got a couple. Now, I don’t mean to share this information as if I’m complaining, which I’m often accused of doing. No, I’m simply sharing facts as I know them. With regard to hips, I may have mentioned that I occasionally contract a semi-case of near-terminal sciatica and have successfully combatted it’s spread with frequent naps. The reason for previous naps may not have inferred the reason, but now you know. When I nap, I heal. We all do. I think.

Anyway, our BIG event this last week was a trip to Eastern Oregon to attend Maryssa’s graduation from Eastern Oregon University, in La Grande. She got a job in Albany, Oregon as a 3rd grade teacher at Waverly Elementary (I think) so things are going well for her.

The graduation ceremony was the 2nd one of the day for EOU students and was held in  a big auditorium that looked suspiciously like a gym with chairs all over the floor for the graduates, and extremely hard bench seats for the masses who attended. To ensure we’d get a seat, we arrived early.

Arriving early wasn’t difficult because we drove our RV to the Wild Horse Casino RV Park near Pendleton where we spent Friday night. We arrived at a reasonable hour thinking we might give the casino buffet a chance when Steffani and Maryssa both called to find out where we were. We explained where we were and Maryssa told me, “well, I’m just going by Wild Horse right now and we’re going to have dinner at Rooster’s Roadhouse in Pendleton. Turns out that Matt (Maryssa’s favorite male person in the world) was arriving with his family from Salem and were staying in Pendleton and everyone available was going to meet them. We were invited. I had just finished hooking everything up and the water heater had been on just long enough that I got a warm shower without having to dilute the hot with cold water to avoid burning off the first couple layers of skin. Having full hook-ups made that possible.

We arrived at Rooster’s right on time to find a herd of people waiting near the front door. Joining them, and passing around platitudes, we learned that Matt and family hadn’t yet arrived so we stood and waited for their arrival. It was a short wait.

Once in the restaurant we were ushered to a back room where we discovered even more people that we know, like brother Jim and Donna, and Bob’s parents. Bob is Maryssa’s dad. In all, once everyone was seated, there were 15 people at one long table.

Going down the left side, and back on the right, we have: Bob & Mary (Maryssa’s Grandparents), Me and Diane, Steffani (Maryssa’s Mom), Mia & Tom (Matt’s and David’s Folks), Bob (Maryssa’s Dad), Bogie (Bob’s Friend and Maryssa’s fake Uncle), Tyler (Maryssa’s Brother), Maryssa, Matt, David, Donna & Jim (Maryssa’s Other Grandparents). Hope that clarifies things.

The dinner was great but I caught a little grief when I commented to the waiter that I found it interesting they could cook a tenderloin to perfection and only get it luke-warm. But, it was good and I ate it all.

After dinner we parted ways and headed for our assigned abodes, some in Pendleton and some in La Grande (47 miles away).

The next morning we drove to THE EVENT and immediately connected with others in the group and captured good seats in the 18 that earlier arrivals (Steffani and Stefany) had reserved which was totally against the rules. I sat next to Donna and right behind Stefany (Daniel’s Fiancé and Maryssa’s Other Brother). We had fun talking with each other, adding our voices to the gathering crowd, and just relaxing. On those cold, hard benches, previously mentioned, which brings us back to the cause of my sciatica situation. Again, I’m not complaining, just explaining. To lighten the mood, Steffani gave us a look at a couple of sides of her personality:

I’m sure I’ll be blamed for instigating this, but that’s OK. Steffani has been well-trained through frequent exposure to her Uncles.

We mostly sat there for four hours, maybe five, seemed like six, and I actually wasn’t aware of the severity of my situation until the graduation was over when I stood up to leave the area. Prior to that, Maryssa received her diploma and was blessed with her BA in Elementary Education.

She ran down the ramp …

Posed for one last photo, and headed for the exit.

Her Mortarboard. The reference to Cleats is about her collegiate career as a stellar softball player. She ended her career at EOU with a game-winning, bottom of the 7th, Home Run in her last time at bat. What a way to go.

I took this one because I like the way her hair looked.

One last Coy Look before morphing into a Professional Teacher.

M&M – Matt & Maryssa

 

Interesting rock sculpture that Diane wanted to capture.

Us and Maryssa – one last touch …

Diane’s graduation gift to Maryssa; a cooler full of strawberry freezer jam. She had some at our house years ago and Diane never forgot. It was the perfect gift.

After that, we headed back to Pendleton to rest one more night before heading home on I-84. My little sciatica bones were absolutely killing me and thinking about the drive didn’t help.

Long story short … I drove for a couple or three hours of the planned five-hour trip then stopped and rested for a while. Couldn’t dally long because we had a date in Scappoose with the Walters family (minus Lydia and Ceiarra who drove to Nampa for Maryssa’s Graduation Party, taking a detour through Lewiston on the way – another story).

First, we met at Ixtapa for dinner then planned to go to the Incredible’s 2 movie. It took forever for our food to arrive making us wonder if we’d make the movie on time, but it worked out. The upside of eating first was that we didn’t spend $50 on popcorn and drinks at the movie.

I sat next to Jeran and he put up with a lot of fidgeting from me as I had to keep changing positions so I wouldn’t cry. The seats were soft, but the position wasn’t good. I hurt.  Still, I enjoyed the movie. We all did. Even Jeran who’s seen it about six times. It was a good, fun evening out with the Fam. I regret that I didn’t get any photos of everyone at the dinner, but you’ve seen them before. Just close your eyes and visualize Me, Cedric, Stephen, Jeran, Daniel, Jennifer, and Diane.

Then, home. When we got there Diane gave me half a Vicodin and I went to bed early. Slept all night, to 0430 when the dogs got up. Let them out, fed them, then found a position on the sofa that didn’t hurt. When Diane got up she gave me a whole Vicodin and I slept most of the day away, healing. I had to heal sufficiently to enable me to go play golf the next day. Oddly enough, as bad as my sciatica hurt me, swinging a golf club doesn’t hurt.

Now my story is done.

Happy Birthday To Me, And Other Stuff

Diane and I took a short trip to the beach last week so the dog would quit whining. Ziva pointed out that we have this perfectly good RV and she would really like to visit the beach. Normally we ignore her when she acts up like this, but this time she made a lot of sense. So, Diane made reservations at Cape Lookout State Park near Tillamook, OR where, in my opinion, the best cheese in the world is made. I suspect there are folks all over the world who will object to that bold statement, and that’s OK. It’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

Cape Lookout is located a very short walk from the beach which is the appeal for those of us who do not live in fear of tsunamis. Should one of those happen, anyone at that location would be goners for sure. According to Allen, one of my neighbors, Cape Lookout is situation on the Cascadia Subduction Zone meaning there was a chance we may not be returning home. Yes, that could happen due to a severe tsunami. It could also happen if I fell asleep while driving the RV along a very narrow road at 85 mph.

Fortunately, neither of those events happened so we had a nice couple of days at the beach and a safe drive home. Ziva was disappointed that we didn’t stay longer but didn’t get nasty about it. That was good because we humans on this trip had to endure three days of fairly dreary weather (no sun) in a location that didn’t have even the glimmer of a southern exposure (no satellite signal). Consequently, we had to take some long walks and actually talk with each other when not reading books. It was awful. So, we came home.

That’s a lie, of course. We enjoy our time together no matter where we are, what the weather’s like, or if we wind up with a spot in the park that can’t ‘see’ the southern sky.

Considering the weather, and the fact that I had to turn down a golf date for Tuesday (tomorrow) Diane gave it some thought and decided that we needed to return early so I could go golfing with the boys. I thought that was very considerate of her. I think she did it for my birthday, which was yesterday, the same day as George Gobel who pointed out that,If it weren’t for electricity, we’d all be watching television by candlelight.”

Not far from Cape Lookout is Happy Camp, a place we visited a long time ago with one of the travel trailers we used to have. At that time, the parking spots were right next to the water making beach access as simple as stepping out of the trailer. It’s not that way any longer.

Not many people live there.

One of our side trips was to Cape Meares Lighthouse which is near Cape Lookout State Park. We found this tree at the end of a 1/4 mile path inside the park.

A few steps beyond the tree revealed this view of the coast.

The white spattered cliff is home for a variety of birds who inhabit the area.

Ziva during a brief playful moment on Cape Lookout beach. The tide was going out. At its highest, the water splashed about halfway up the rocks.

When the tide goes out, it goes a long way. The point of land in the distance is Cape Meares.

This is closer to home, at Pixie Park in Columbia City, Oregon. Normally there are steps down to a beach beyond the railing. The Columbia River is running quite high right now. This is where we come to watch ships transiting the river.

Proof that the river is very high is that we can see the ships from our house. This is the Carnival Legend cruise ship heading down stream on its way to new adventures after receiving a $65 million dollar upgrade at Swan Island. Normally we would not be able to see this from home..

Gotta quit now and clean up because Diane’s cooking supper. I need to clean up because I actually did some outside work whacking down a bunch of grass and yanking out a couple of bushes that I killed a while back. I’m not allowed to smell like grass clippings inside the house.

Later.

It’s Been Busy Here

I just checked my calendar and discovered why I normally add ‘stuff’ more often than once every couple of weeks. Generally that isn’t a problem because we’re usually not very busy. Including today, here are the significant ‘things’ that happened over the past 16 days:

4/24 – Our annual Anniversary trip ended this day when we arrived safely home from Bayview State Park, Washington. In case you missed my previous post, this was our 50th. I’m surprised that she let me live this long and told her so. Since she didn’t respond right away, I suspect she’s surprised, too. I thanked her for my longevity. On a previous anniversary trip to NW Washington we arrived 2 days after they lopped off all the tulip tops in all the tulip fields. We had no idea they did this so it was a real downer. This year we arrived in time to take it all in …

4/25 – Trip to Best Buy to retrieve Diane’s repaired computer that we left with them before we took our journey. They had it fixed before we reached our destination and told me so. So, it was kinda funny that when I went to pick it up, it didn’t work. I couldn’t log in to it. Neither could the Geek Guy. So, I sat there while they went completely through the process of reinstalling Windows 10 and all the subsequent updates needed to get it current. It took two hours. I didn’t take a photo of Diane’s computer but you can trust me that it works nicely and it now has a cute little backup hard drive connected.

4/26 – Ruth arrived from Connecticut to join us for our 50th anniversary party where we planned to renew our vows. Ruth is our Sister-In-Law who was married to my older brother, Lyle, who is no longer physically with us. I have a photo of him on my desk that was used at his funeral so I see him every day. Ruth is staying with us for two weeks and was assigned to sleep in Jeran’s and Gilligan’s bedroom because it only has a twin bed. Our other party guests are couples which dictates the need for larger beds.

4/27 – Jack & Wynette arrived from Arizona to also join in our 50th celebration. They drove day and night to arrive on time and we were very happy to see our old pickup truck. You may remember that we swapped vehicles a few posts back. Jack is my brother and won the right to sleep in Diane’s and My bedroom simply because they arrived before Brother Jim and wife Donna. Then, Diane and I moved to the basement and made our beds on the sofas down there. Turns out they were pretty comfortable.

4/28 – Jim & Donna arrived from Idaho. They won a 4 day stay in Lydia’s, Baylee’s, and Jerrie’s bedroom because it has a queen bed. Their arrival signaled the end to our house guest for the near future. We loved having all the brothers and sisters with us because it doesn’t happen nearly often enough. We’re a little bit too spread out in the country.

4/29 – Diane and I renewed our marriage vows with a short service in the afternoon, after our normal Sunday morning service. Lots of friends and family showed up and I’m afraid I didn’t get around to talk with all of them during the course of this celebration. I was too busy eating. So, for those of you I may have missed, please forgive me. If you want to stop by the house sometime, we have plenty of turkey and ham left.

This is us and most of the grand kids.

Our daughter, Jennifer, and son, Jeffrey, took the role of Bride’s Maid and Best Man. I think they had a good time.

We even had a beautiful wedding cake thanks to Jennifer. She has a cake-baking friend. 

Unlike the first marriage, in 1968, Diane tempted fate and tried to smash some cake into my face. She was moderately successful, as was I. I’ve always wanted to do that.

This is pretty much all of us. We were missing some cousins (Debbie and Roger) who could have joined us but probably thought it would be better to not have a permanent record of our association. That’s OK. I’ll leave it to you to figure out who’s who.

The 2nd wedding was presided over by our good friend, Carolann, who lives part time in an old (1989) Winnebago that her husband, Terry, got from our other good friends, Les and Sofie, because they got a new Winnebago and decided they no longer needed three of them. They kept Wilbur, their very nice 1972 rig. It’s complicated. It’s a fun club (Classic Winnebagos) with fun people who have amazing skills and interesting backgrounds.

We also had attendees from our old PT Cruiser Club with whom we’ve been cruising since 2000. And, there were high school classmates who still talk to me. We even play golf. It was great to see everyone.

Although gifts were not encouraged, some were presented and gratefully accepted. Some were monetary in the form of $50 bills, and one notable pile of 50 $1 bills, in addition to this marvelous framed street sign from our USS Cleveland shipmates, Gary & Cindy:

4/30 – Baylee Jean Marie Cate celebrated her 9th birthday.  

Since we had a lot of exceptional cake left over from the day before, we used it and some candles to have a little party.

5/1 – Daniel’s Birthday. He’s getting closer to middle age all the time even though he still looks like a kid to me. He’s only 43. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a secret, or not, but don’t tell him you got that info from me. That escalated age happened very quickly over the course of the last 20 something years. Daniel single-handedly runs one of the many Intel campuses in Hillsboro. If it wasn’t for him, your computer wouldn’t work. That may, or may not, be true.

5/2 – Jim & Donna left which meant Diane and I could have moved out of the basement, but we didn’t. Turns out we were pretty comfortable down there, and we didn’t want to make the vacated bed. So, we stayed in the dungeon with all the dogs. And the cat. Probably a bunch of spiders, too. It was sad to see them go because we don’t often have the opportunity for the whole (remaining) family to gather and visit. There will be more, I’m sure.

5/3 – Sarah Visited. Sarah is Ruth’s and Lyle’s granddaughter who moved to Hillsboro from Connecticut a couple of years ago. She’s the one on the left in the following photo. Ruth is on the right. Diane and Lydia are in the middle. We had lunch at the Klondike then took her on a scenic trip around St. Helens, stopping at Lydia’s place of work so she and Sarah could look at each other live for the first time. It’s good to know who your cousins are. It was good to see Sarah and especially good for Ruth to see her Granddaughter. If she looks familiar to you, you probably had open heart surgery at St. Vincent’s. She’s the nurse who is totally in charge of all the doctors and nurses at St. Vincent’s who do that kind of stuff. She’s pretty special. I’m sure most of that is true, especially the “pretty special” part.

5/4 – Dinner @ Elks with Jack, Wynette, Ruth – Jack & Wynette took us all to the St. Helens Elks club for dinner and it was excellent. I didn’t take any photos there because it was dark, but you know who all those people are. One of them, at an adjacent table, is a lady who used to share a seat with me on the bus to Portland when I was still working. Hadn’t seen her in 8 years. The rest of us had a great time visiting, something we don’t get to do as a group nearly often enough.

Earlier in the day, Lydia brought her year old Rottweiler puppy to the house for a last visit. Sadly, he had a spinal deformity that caused him to fall all the time and it can’t be repaired. Lydia and family have been hoping he would grow out of it and thrive, but that didn’t happen, so he was released from the strings that trapped him in a malfunctioning body. Lydia and Ceiarra spent the day taking him around to visit friends, then to the beach, and out for an ice cream cone before the appointed time for departure. He was well-loved and will be missed a great deal.

5/5 – Family dinner at home – pork roast and tiny taters by Ruth and associates. Sadly, Daniel, Cedric, and Ceiarra were missing due to scheduling conflicts. We missed them, but we ate anyway. There was a report that the pork was a little dry because I was left home, alone, without proper instructions or supervision, while Diane and Ruth toured Portland in search of Diane’s almost 50-year-old sewing machine that was at the Sewing Machine Hospital of Portland. We delivered it to them before departing on our Anniversary Trip to Bayview State Park. It was gratifying to learn that they had successfully resuscitated the machine. We had doubts.

5/6 – Jack & Wynette departed on the first leg of their journey back to Arizona. We were sad to see the pickup go, as well as it occupants, and wished them safe travels along the winding road home. One of these days we will be visiting them in Arizona. Really, we will. Looking at the photo, I see a band-aid on my left thumb so this must have been the day, before dinner, when I was brutally attacked by Dexter, the dog next door. Actually, there was an altercation between Panzee and the neighbor’s giant black lab that prompted me to insert myself into the middle of that dog fight. Probably not a smart thing to do, but I did it anyway. I do lots of un-smart things like that. I wasn’t actually attacked. All I did was break a nail on something, probably a shiny white tooth. The break was about halfway down the quick of my thumb and halfway to the middle where it was ripped away. There was blood on Panzee’s neck, which was in grasp of Dexter’s very impressive mouth, so everyone thought it was hers. Then I noticed my disheveled thumb and fell to the ground whining and groveling when I realized it was my blood, not Panzee’s. In spite of the groveling, I was able to extract Panzee from Dexter’s jaws of death and Tim was able to get Dexter under control. It was a pretty exciting series of events. Then we had dinner.

5/7 – Sarah invited us to a BBQ dinner in Hillsboro. Of course we went and were pleased to meet Sarah’s boyfriend Jay, his brother Todd, their parents, and Todd’s wife’s parents. Being an expert at forgetting names immediately after hearing them I was at a severe disadvantage for figuring out who everyone was. I know Keith is J & T’s Dad, but can’t remember their Mom’s name and cannot remember Todd’s wife’s parent’s names at all. I do remember Lucy, however, who was the smallest person present because she’s only 9 months old and belongs to Todd and his Wife. There is a pretty incredible story about how Sarah met Jay and it could be long, but I’ll give you a short version. Sarah and Todd are both RN’s who worked together in Connecticut. Todd moved to Hillsboro, Sarah visited, and they went to Seaside to visit Jay and family where Todd exposed his plan to marry his current wife. She’s an Emergency Room Doctor for Kaiser. Jay and Sarah got along well and she decided to relocate to Hillsboro. Jay was a Policeman in Connecticut and traded that job for one with the Washington County Sheriff’s department. They got a condo. The BBQ was awesome … the biggest and most tender filet mignon I’ve ever seen. Cooked to perfection by Todd and Jay. Halfway through the meal Diane and I had to leave to visit the Good Sam ER facility. This was a planned visit, nothing to do with the food. Did you know you can make appointments for Urgent Care? I did that to have someone attend to my escalating case of epididymitis that I’d been fighting for a couple of weeks. End result, I had a soothing ultrasound of my testicles, by a nice young lady, while Diane and I held hands and watched TV in ER room 10 at Good Sam. This was a new one for us. I got antibiotics and am healing. For some reason, this is the only photo I took at the BBQ:

Diane wouldn’t let me take photos in the emergency room.

5/8 – Diane & Ruth  took a trip to get their toes fixed at a local nail salon. Well already had the appointments but I gave up my spot for Ruth. Yes, I get a pedicure once in a while. I’m thinking that the next time I have an ultrasound on my testicles I’ll just get my toes done at the same time. Ya, I know that’s not going to happen, but it conjures up interesting things in my head.

5/9 – We took Ruth to the beach, via Astoria, and ate Crab Louie’s at Norma’s near the Seaside turnaround where Louis and Clark finished their epic journey. Here’s proof …

Then we went to Ecola State Park by Canon Beach where we were delighted to see a dozen elk wandering around in the grass by the parking lot.

Guess they like the view, too.

One of the main points of interest you can see from this location, is the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

It’s fun to watch in a storm.

Then we went to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock that was in the movie Goonies.

Then, it was time to head home by way of the Astoria Column located on a hill above Astoria.

 

This is just to show off the T-shirts Diane got us. Kinda cool, huh?

We made it home safely from our journey to the coast (that’s the same as ‘shore’ to those of you on the east coast).

Ruth left for home yesterday after spending two weeks with us, looking everyday for a glimpse of Mt. Hood. Alas, it never showed up even one time. Then we put her on a plane. When we got home, here’s what we saw, so this is for Ruth.

I think that pretty does it for the past umpteen days. Now I need to get out of my PJ’s and go mow the yard.

Cheers.